TOURISM businesses across Dorset have been celebrated at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The awards on Thursday evening were held in association with Source for Business at Plymouth’s Holiday Inn and saw a record amount of entries.

Nearly 350 entries were considered and 66 different awards were announced.

Highlands End Holiday Park in Bridport was awarded gold for holiday park of the year and the Dorset Seafood Festival held in Weymouth scooped a silver award for tourism event of the year.

Roger Dalton, chairman of the Dorset Seafood Festival, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the festival has won a silver award.

“Two years ago we received a bronze tourism award for the same category, so I’m glad we have progressed so well and we hope next time will be a gold award.

“There are more food festivals around the south coast now which have seen and perhaps been inspired by the success of the Dorset Seafood Festival, which in turn pushes us to find ways to expand the event further.

“Therefore in 2015 we want to run a week of seafood events running up the festival itself.

“This year allows us to work out the logistics of that.”

Bronze awards were given to Launceston Farm Bed and Breakfast in Blandford Forum for guest accommodation of the year and Greenwood Grange in Dorchester for self-catering establishment of the year.

In east Dorset, South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park in Lytchett Minster was highly commended for holiday park of the year and, in the west, Lyme Regis Tourist Information Centre scooped bronze for tourist information service of the year.

In addition Bridge House Hotel in Beaminster was highly commended for small hotel of the year. Entrants for the awards were shortlisted, with 213 entrants then visited by a team of 35 mystery shoppers.

Award submission was free and all entrants received feedback and useful tips for future success.

Up to four award winners from each category in this year’s awards will also now go on to represent the region at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in May.